A new company has been formed to buy and capitalize on polymer production technology developed by General Electric Co.
Cyclics Corp. of Schenectady, N.Y., bought nearly 50 GE patents for cyclic raw materials for polycarbonate, polyarylate and polybutylene terephthalate production. The raw materials, with waterlike viscosity, process like thermosets but end up as thermoplastics.
Cyclics President John Ciovacco said his firm probably will focus on pultrusion applications, since the raw materials easily accept high levels of glass-fiber reinforcement. Their high reaction temperature — 400° F or above — should not be a drawback in pultrusion systems.
The raw materials are oligomers with a cyclic structure containing two or more monomers. An initiator is added to the raw material to open the oligomer rings and cause polymerization. The type of initiator determines reaction speed, green strength, molecular weight and other properties.
Ciovacco said in a telephone interview that GE worked with Ford Motor Co. to develop automotive applications for the materials along the lines of reaction injection molding. The five-year program ended in 1997 when Ford would not commit to high-volume uses, he said.
Benefits of the new materials include high fiber loadings, recyclability, and the ability to thermoform, weld and repair structures, he said, adding that cycle times are as fast or faster than thermoset resins.
Cyclics could license its technology to firms interested in making long-fiber thermoplastic composites. The low viscosity of the new materials means they easily wet-out glass fibers. Ciovacco envisions applications in construction, transportation, sports equipment, automotive, aerospace and other markets.
Cyclics will set up a lab in the next few months for product development.